OTC Cold & Flu Meds See YoY Increase

New insights from Catalina show that the 'tripledemic' is having a large impact on OTC medicine sales.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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New data from Catalina shows that overall over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medicine increased in price by 12% in 2022, with private label sales slightly decreasing outside of the children’s category.

What is normally known as cold and flu season has been dubbed a 'tripledemic' this year, as flu, COVID-19 and respiratory virus infections (RSV) cases are all on the rise. OTC cough-, RSV-, cold- and flu-related products saw an increase in sales of 19% in October and November of this year compared to last year. 

Private label sales in the category decreased slightly for several OTC categories compared to the prior year. Exceptions are children’s analgesics and children’s cough & cold, which saw slight increases for private label during a period when, according to Catalina, several news organizations reported shortages around the country, likely fueling panic buying.

Catalina 2022 cold & flu data

Year-over-year, children’s analgesics (+69%), adult cough & cold (+39%) and adult cough/sore throat drops and lozenges (+26%) saw the largest increases.

“Sales of home COVID testing kits may have dropped as consumers become less vigilant about spreading the virus and the federal government continues to provide free home kits. Following the large social gatherings that accompany year-end holidays, Catalina expects to see an uptick in kit purchases when an expected surge in cases follows in January,” said Sean Murphy, chief data & analytics officer at Catalina. “While RSV rates have started to fall, the flu season is expected to last through February 2023, so the overall ‘tripledemic’ will continue to have an impact on OTC shopper behavior well into the New Year.”

For more information on Catalina’s data, click here.